Whether you’re a complete beginner, confident intermediate, or a seasoned pro, Ibanez usually have an instrument to fit the bill. When it comes to mid-level ukuleles, the UEW15E electro-acoustic concert uke proves a very good find. It’s one of the higher priced models on our chart of the best ukuleles under $200, but is it worth the slightly higher price tag? Let’s take a look.
The UEW15E makes great use of Ibanez’s distinctive EW body shape, complete with the familiar single cutaway – in fact, it looks exactly like a miniature EW acoustic! With a concert size, the body of this cute uke is made from a striking flamed mahogany on the top, back and sides. The grain is very eye-catching and, along with some handsome appointments – including an open-pore finish, contrasting ivory body binding, and maple dot inlays – certainly gives this ukulele a higher-end feel.
As you’d expect from Ibanez, playability is the focus and the UEW15E is good fun to play, with a C-shaped mahogany neck, wearing a rosewood fretboard and 19 frets. The ukulele is made in China, but shows no rough spots – it feels well-made and durable, and certainly worthy of the slightly higher price tag.
The UEW15E features all Ibanez-designed electronics, comprising an undersaddle piezo pickup and an Ibanez UK300-T preamp. On this you’ll find a master volume rotary control alongside bass and treble sliders. There’s also a built-in digital tuner, which is very accurate and proves a handy addition for any level of player.
The rest of the uke’s hardware is good, and what you’d expect for the price. The chrome open-geared tuners are made by Grover, with black tuning keys, and feel nice to use and keep your tuning relatively stable. Throw in a rosewood bridge, compensated saddle and a set of decent Aquila black strings, and it’s not bad at all.
Made entirely of mahogany, this uke has a very pleasant well-rounded sound. Acoustically it’s very rich in tone, with good warmth, while it projects pretty well. Plugged in via the ¼” output jack, the UEW15E sounds fine – nothing jaw-dropping, but articulate and balanced, with the 2-band EQ offering good versatility.
In addition to being a good-looking ukulele, Ibanez have crafted an all-round user-friendly instrument, with great playability and components that keep it playing and sounding great. Whatever your style, it’s well-suited for experienced players looking for a good-quality concert uke, or even the beginner who wants to learn on something of a higher quality than a basic entry-level model – something that will allow them to grow.